It’s a good one in the Big Ten for the March 6th Illinois at Ohio State betting pick. The #22 Fighting Illini travel to the #19 Buckeyes where OSU is a -5.5 favorite. That seems like a big number for an Illinois team that has won four in a row and can move into a tie for 1st in the conference with a win.
Ohio State is on a roll too though with three straight wins including a 14 point thumping of Michigan in Columbus on Sunday. Thursday’s meeting is the only one of the regular season for these two teams but the away squad won both last season.
Can the Illini Keep It Within 6?
The Fighting Illini definitely have momentum coming into the March 5th Illinois at Ohio State betting pick. Brad Underwood’s team has rattled off 4-straight wins and thanks to some falters from Maryland can slide into a 4-way tie for 1st in the Big 10 with a win on Thursday.
Of course that win won’t be easy as Ohio State has gone 14-2 at home this season. Illinois is just 6-5 on the road but has answered big challenges in wins at Wisconsin, at Purdue, at Michigan, and at Penn State. Illinois and Ohio State are 5th and 6th in the conference in scoring, but the Illini are 2nd in rebounding whereas the Buckeyes rank 9th.
Illinois has an equalizer for Ohio State’s best player in 7′, 290 pound Kofi Cockburn. The big man clogs the middle which creates openings for Ayo Dosunmu who has gone for 17+ in five straight. The Fighting Illini also have great depth in players like Andres Feliz (double digit scoring in 8 of 10) and Alan Griffin (13+ in 3 of 5).
Ohio State Proving Their Mettle As of Late
Illinois has won four in a row, but the last three have come against Nebraska, Northwestern, and Indiana – bottom tier Big 10 teams. Ohio State on the other hand has beaten #9 Maryland (79-72) and #17 Michigan (77-63) in two of their current three game win streak – both in Columbus. What makes Illinois any better than those teams?
What Thursday’s game does present is a big challenge for Kaleb Wesson against Illinois’ imposing interior defense. Wesson has a ceiling of 16 points over the last 6 games (although he did grab 18 boards vs. Nebraska) and went just 1-9 on two point FG’s vs. Michigan on Sunday.
What this tilt is looking like it comes down to is guard play. That’s a strength for Illinois, but Ohio State’s 3-guard approach of CJ Walker, Luther Muhammad, and Duane Washington has been impressive as of late too. Washington has 13+ in four straight, Walker 11+ over that span, and Muhammad had 22 to power the win over Maryland.
March 5th Illinois at Ohio State Betting Pick
Illinois is gunning for 1st place but it’s also Senior Night for the Buckeyes. The teams have combined to win 7 in a row, but the Illini’s have been tomato cans the last three. 59% of the public likes Illinois to cover on the road and the line has dropped accordingly from an ILL +6.5 open. Ultimately, you have to take the points here as an Illinois outright win is just as probable as an Ohio State blowout.
Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini +5.5